A Real Life Update

July 13, 2013

A real life update

It’s been a long time since I’ve been making regular updates. It’s been half a year since I was regular in posting. For this I feel I owe the readers I have an apology. I apologize also to those who were helping me with content or whom I had agreements to interview.

I wasn’t sure at first if I should post this as it’s personal, but it does accurately represent the things that an autistic person has to face in real life. So I include it, as an overview here and with more details to come in later posts.

The best news and the largest reason I’ve not had the energy and motivation to write was that I got a job. A good job. A job that I honestly wasn’t sure I was qualified for. I got a position as a quality assurance engineer for an Android tablet developer.

It’s the best paying job I’ve ever had, and with the best company I’ve ever worked for. It’s the first job I’ve had since my own diagnosis, so I had the challenge of coming out to my employer for the first time. That went surprisingly well. I started out well, but in less than two months I was burning out badly. I had to reduce my hours at work. The sensory issues were causing migraines and the strain of navigating the social workplace was causing nervous breakdowns.

Just when I was about to quit the job, my salvation came in the form of a diagnosis and medication from my psychiatrist. She diagnosed me with bipolar II and put me on Abilify, and increased my ADHD meds as well. At first this was probably part of the problem, as my mood fluctuated wildly on the new meds. But I settled into a higher happier normal and I found I had the energy and reserves to make it through the work day.

So armed, I talked to my manager and he agreed that if I could continue to perform, then he’d renew my contract. My contract has been renewed twice now. Getting through an 8 hour work day five times a week is still more draining for me than for normal people. The meds alone probably wouldn’t have been enough, but I was also given an office of my own, which lets me shut out most of the noise and sensory issues. And I’ve learned enough of the people I work with that navigating the social situation isn’t as stressful. I’m staying afloat. Hurrah!

On top of all of this, I had to move. My partner of 10 years broke up with me, and while she didn’t require that I leave, it was too painful to stay in the house with her. I crashed on a friends couch for a couple weeks until I could find my own place, a tiny efficiency near the university.

So while I was struggling to adjust to a new job and new meds, I was also suddenly single, hurt, and living on my own for the first time ever. I was barely surviving, in many interpretations of the words. I was suicidal, and had to call friends a handful of times to talk me down from doing something injurious or permanent. I’m eternally grateful to those friends.

I’m still hazy about why the relationship ended. In truth, I think the relationship ended when I got my autism diagnosis. It was certainly damaged and never recovered from it. It just took half a year to finish dying. The final exchange was yet another instance where my words were taken in ways that I did not intend and did not understand. But it was the last straw. My partner said it didn’t matter if I meant the words how she took them or not, she was done hurting. And I was left wondering if she really knew me at all if she could think I meant the words how she took them.
But time heals, and I became more balanced as the meds began working. My job performance improved. My confidence improved. My living situation improved as I began to have enough energy to clean and declutter and make my apartment more livable and less depressing.

I wouldn’t wish the last year I had on anyone, especially not the last six months. But I’ve learned a lot, and I’m learning more and more. I’m learning how to survive on my own, finally, at the age of 34. I’m even just starting to thrive, maybe a little. I’m moving at the end of the month, into a larger apartment. This is the first move that is completely my own decision and timing and everything. I’m excited, and a little afraid. I generally hate moving.

That’s the story of these many months and why I’ve not been writing. I’ve been too busy surviving, and growing some. I almost gave up and went home to family in KY on several occasions. I came closer to giving up on life than I care to admit. But I’ve passed through fire and shadow and now see the light on the other side.

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